Talk to the Hand: The Truth about Tyrone

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In Robert Askins’ Hand to God, currently onstage at Florida Studio Theatre and running through February 10, a shy teenager named Jason (Harrison Bryan) joins his church’s Christian Puppet Ministry, only to find himself paired with the possibly-possessed hand-puppet Tyrone (…also Harrison Bryan). As the lines between puppet and puppet-master blur, antics abound, relationships strain and uncomfortable questions rise to the surface. SRQ popped in for a rare, off-the-cuff interview with the supposedly diabolical and definitely pathological Tyrone.

What is this story all about? For me, it's about where did evil start. Is evil something that human beings created to take the blame off of themselves for all the terrible things they’ve done? Or, was evil always there, like the clouds and the little sky up there? For me, I blame the human beings. But human beings, maybe they want to blame the Devil. That's on them.

What do you make of this Jason guy? What a piece of work is man—or shall I say is Jason. Nice kid, very shy. Father just died, his mom's not the most attentive mother in the world to his feelings, and he's got to start taking his life into his own hands.

In what way? He likes this girl, Jessica—never even spoken to her. He hates this bully, Timothy—he just sits there and lets this kid crap all over him. It's like, this kid is capable of some deep emotional power, and I'm just here to help him out, man.

And that’s where you come in? So many kids these days, they're on their cell phones, they're looking down at the floor. They don't realize what they're capable of. And they've got these huge emotional lives just waiting to be set free and that's what I like to think I do, baby.

What about this other Jason (Cannon), the director? This guy lets me go crazy on that stage. A lot of directors, they'd be scared—“Oh no, I don't want the Devil on the stage, oh my god!” But this guy? He's like, “Unleash the demon!”

Right on stage? Yeah, baby, and it's different every night. Sometimes the audience will start saying stuff and I'll have to shut them up. Sometimes the other actors do something I don't expect, so I put them in their place. It’s freaking great, I'm the biggest thing Sarasota's ever seen, baby!

Who are your puppet heroes? I like that Punch and Judy guy. And Kermit the Frog—that guy is a class act. But I hate Elmo. Oh my god is he a baby.

What Hogwarts house are you? I'm the Sorting Hat, baby! Alright, no, it would probably be Slytherin, right?

Cats or dogs? Dogs, because you can get them to do whatever you want.

What are your puppet aspirations? What's the future hold for Tyrone? To keep bringing laughter and truth into the homes of America. I want to be a part of the greater union of truth and laughter. And you can quote me on that, baby.

Pictured: Tyrone and Jason meet eye-to-eye on the Florida Studio Theatre stage. Photo courtesy of FST.

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